School concert a family affair

Chad Frey
The Kansan

When Newton High School music groups perform May 2 in Athletic Park  it will be a family affair — Both Greg Bergman and Rebecca Schloneger will have children performing during the fund-raising concert. 

"This has been one of my greatest joys as a teacher. Not many parents get to spend part of each work day with their kids," Bergman said. "My boys generally avoid talking to me at school -- I think because they're embarrassed to call me "Dad" when their peers call me 'Mr. Bergman!'"

The Bergmans — NHS senior Josh (left), Chisholm Middle School sixth-grader Nic (center) and Instrumental Music teacher Greg  will all be in action during the all-district concert May 2 in Athletic Park. They are one of two staff/student family groups that will perform.

They will perform as part of musical groups in a unique concert.

"May 2nd will be a special concert because it features all musicians from 5th grade through 12th grade, both bands and orchestras and will be followed with a Hog Roast Fundraiser," Schlonager said. 

"This annual event is neat because the audience can see and hear the progression from our fifth  graders who are completing their first year all the way to the NHS Bands that include Seniors who have been studying for eight years," Bergman said. "This program is special because it will be the first ever concert for students in our 5th and 6th grade bands."

And, in addition to the musical performances, the Fine Arts Booser Clun will host a Hog Roast from 3:30 to  7 p.m., served out of the concession stand at Fischer Field.  The $7 meal includes a roast pork sandwich, baked beans, pickle, chips and bottled water.  Drive-thru will be available, though that means missing the free concert in the bandshell. In the case of inclement weather, location changes will be posted online at facebook.com/NewtonHighSchoolKS/.

Before he became Mr. Bergman, Greg took piano lessons before starting trumpet in fifth grade. He was in the Nebraska All-State Choir in high school.  After graduating from Wayne State College, he taught band in Stanton, Nebraska, for five years before moving to Kansas to pursue a Master's degree at Wichita State University. During his two years at WSU the was the assistant band director at Wichita East High School before coming to Newton in 2001. 

"This is my 20th year in the district and my 27th year of teaching," Greg Bergman said. "I still play the trumpet often, including my role as Principal Trumpet in the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra." 

His sons  both started band in fifth grade, making music a true family affair. Greg's wife,  Kate is musicians as well.

"We didn't hand our kids instruments at age 4 or anything like that," Greg Bergman said. "Josh is a Senior trumpet player and Nic is a sixth grade trombone player. They are good students and have an aptitude for music, but have very different personalities."

Schloneger is in her second year teaching for the USD 373 School District, coming to Newton after teaching  adjunct violin at are college including Tabor, Bethany, and Hesston  and Suzuki violin for the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts. She has also performed locally as part of the Sunflower Trio (with her husband, and Ken Rodgers of Hesston College) and the Brain Flowers, a trio. 

Her son Jonah did not pick violin — opting for piano. He will perform with the Jazz 1 Ensemble and Jazz Combo and is a co-captain of the NHS Drumline. 

Jonah Schloneger, the son of Newton High School instrumental music teacher Rebecca Schloneger, chose piano and drums instead of his mother's speciality of violin. He will perform as part of ensembles during the All-District Concert May 2.

"What I am nostalgic about is having watched my son grow up in the Newton School District," Rebecca Schlonager said. " There are so many wonderful opportunities here from fine arts to sports to academics-his education has been well rounded and formative.  The fine arts instructors and tennis coaches really care about their students."

She does not get to teach her son in the classroom, but she does get time with him every day. 

"My interaction with my son is primarily in seminar (study hall) and arriving to school together in the morning.  Getting to see him at the start and end of each day has been meaningful-it's a chance to wish him well and ask how the day went," Rebecca Schlonager said.  "Watching him perform in ensembles is such a fun experience but it's really great when you know lots of players in the ensembles through the friendships they have with my son."

Michael Bankston started teaching orchestra and instrumental music at Newton High School two years ago. She will direct ensembles May 2 during the All District Concert, though none with her son who plays piano and drum.

Again a family affair, in addition to Rebecca and  Josh making music Matt Schloneger, Rbecca's husband and Jonah's father, is currently the vocal music instructor at Friends University.